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Busboy in iconic RFK assassination photo pays his respects, 42 years later

November 21, 2010 | 10:07 am

Busboy As a skinny teenage busboy, Juan Romero knelt beside a mortally wounded Bobby Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. On Saturday morning, more than 42 years later, he knelt again, this time beside RFK's grave on what would have been Kennedy's 85th birthday.

Romero was wearing a suit for the first time in his life, saying it was the proper way to show his respect for a man whose memory he has tried to honor by living a life of tolerance and humility.

Getting up the courage to visit Arlington National Cemetery was not easy for Romero, a construction worker from San Jose who has been haunted for decades by the events of June 5, 1968. Under a soft blue sky, with fall colors exploding across the velvety slopes of the cemetery, Romero walked off to be alone and have one last good cry before visiting the grave.

"Sorry," he apologized to his daughter, Elda, and friend, Rigo Chacon, who had made the trip with him from California. "If I can get it out of the way now...." Maybe a good cry would help him keep his composure, he said, when he finally stood at the grave.

Read Steve Lopez's full column here.

Photo: Busboy Juan Romero, 17, kneels by mortally wounded presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968. Credit: Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times